Tag Archives: Art and architecture.

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – AN INTRODUCTION AND A VIEW OF BLACKBURN.

Wainwright’s Way is a 123-mile long-distance route linking the place where he was born, a Victorian terraced house in Audley Range, Blackburn, with his final resting place, by Innominate Tarn on Haystacks in the Lake District.

The walk follows in his footsteps linking his youthful walks, the sights he sketched and wrote about in Lancashire and Westmorland, time in Kendal before entering the Lake District, land of his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

I have obtained a guidebook written by Nick Burton which as well as giving a route description goes into detailed aspects of Wainwright’s life. Nick’s first chapter is devoted to AW’s time in Blackburn and suggests a short tour of the sights that he would have been familiar with. I have already made a ‘pilgrimage’ to his Memorial on the hills above Blackburn and now I’ll explore the town centre.

Wainwright lived in Blackburn from 1907 until  1941. How different the town would have been when he went to school and from the age of 13 worked as a clerk at the Town Hall. Blackburn had been a boomtown based on the cotton industry which was slowly contracting, mills were still dominant and the pollution and noise must have been all invading. Rows and rows of basic housing accomodated the workforce of which many faced poverty in the slumps of the 20s and 30s. The town centre reflected its former glory with buildings of Victorian splendour and daily AW would walk to work at the Town Hall in the centre. So much has changed as Blackburn has been redeveloped but Burton tries to show you a glimpse of AW’s time. There’s not much left. The town seems to have suffered from the bulldozer more than others.

Nick Burton.

The bus station from where he departed for adventures further afield has been moved and the station forecourt ‘modernised’.

The Cathedral stands centre stage, the land around it has become a pleasing open space. There are tombs of past notaries such as the Fielden and Peel families. Queen Victoria’s statue occupies one corner while closer at hand is a modern statue.

Variety theatres have disappeared from hereabouts and the centre is dominated by a large shopping mall cum market. On Darwen Street is the old Post Office now a thriving Wetherspoons.

On a corner is the ornate old Lloyds Bank and then the remains of a Victorian Exchange Arcade. Northgate survives but with a poor selection of shops. Ahead is Gladstone’s statue pointing to King George’s Hall and courts.

Across the way is the impressive terracotta Technical School and behind is the shell of Blakey Moor Higher Elementary School where AW was briefly a pupil in 1919-20 before leaving for a job at the Town Hall.

The Italianate Town Hall is still standing and now connected to a multistorey extension overlooking the statue of W H Hornby a cotton baron who became Mayor in 1857.

Nearby are two other Victorian buildings from AW’s time. The scruffy Cotton Exchange, a cinema in the early 20th century,  and the former Library now a museum.

Georgian Richmond Terrace is mainly legal offices but was built for rich local gentlemen before they moved out to the countryside when the railways came.

James Street retains its cobbles if nothing else.

Alongside St. John’s Church is the earliest church in the town, started in 1789.  Recently run as an arts centre it was gutted by fire earlier this year and looks lost and forlorn. Somewhere in the grounds is a memorial stone to the Thwaites family, local brewers.

Speaking of which their town centre brewery is being demolished since they have moved away. The sight of dray horse waggons a memory. Past the bingo hall, Penny Street has become a large soulless car park next to the new bus station.

Nick Burton suggests a diversion up Old Eanam Road past the old Soho foundry to view a few remaining canalside buildings and wharves. Despite the coming of the railways, there would have still been commercial canal traffic in AW’s time.

 

In Nick Burton’s book, AW’s sketches from his many books are used to supplement the descriptions. I can find none of Blackburn.

Back to the station and time to escape to the country.

 

 

 

 

 

THE LOT. A HOLIDAY DIARY.

Puy L’Eveque on the Lot River.

I’ve just returned from three weeks staying in my friend’s house in the Lot Valley, France.  The weather as you can imagine, in August, was hot and sunny.

The first week was shared with the owners and their family, the second two weeks one of my sons came out with his family.

Here is a snapshot of daily life.

Day 1.  Hot air balloon. Awoke this morning to see across the vineyards a hot air balloon landing through the mist over towards Vire. They must have had a fantastic flight in the clear morning air. I don’t know where they launch from, an unusual start to the holiday.

Day 2. Men in orange. It turns out that this Thursday is a French Bank Holiday, we get caught out with the shops being closed.  This explains why the hunters are out in the combe, dogs try to flush out deer or wild boar into the open. Not a good time to go walking. Thankfully there were no shots heard this morning.

Day 3. Full moon. I seem to often visit whilst there is a full moon which shines brightly over the back of the house and garden whilst we are finishing supper.

Day 4. In the pool. The two young children make the most of the pool as the temperature sores into the 30s.

Children, father and grandma.

Day 5. BMF training. Saturday back home in Leeds is BMF training session in Roundhay Park so the exercises were recreated on the lawn. It all looked very energetic and powerful from my viewpoint on a lounger.

Day 6. French walkers. Each day I get out for a short walk, often before breakfast. My favourite is up the garden into the woods and then back down The Combe de Filhol. Today I extend my walk around the Orienteering Course in the woods across the way. I come across a group of French walkers, holidaying in the area, marching along with a map. Normally I see no one but today as I zigzag about I bump into the same group several times, they look a little uneasy as I keep appearing from the undergrowth.

Day 7. Hints of autumn.  On my walks I started noticing fungi pushing through the undergrowth. Unfortunately they looked poisonous, On the other hand, the mirabelles, small plums, were prolific and once stewed provided many delicious desserts with yoghurt or ice cream.

Day 8. All change. I take mine hosts back to the airport and await the arrival of my family group. They are quickly through passport control, how will this be next year after Brexit?   I drive them back with a short coffee break in Isseagac, a charming Bastide town.

Day 9. Garden games. A lot of time was taken up with games in the garden. Boules, table tennis, french cricket, croquet etc. The competitive spirit was well demonstrated in croquet where some most unfriendly manoeuvers were taken.

Day 10. On the bike. For some of my longer excursions, I took one of the bikes with me but ended up walking as much as riding due to the terrain and the bike’s gears’ obstinacy. One of my favourite trips which I hadn’t made for some time was over the hills to St. Martin le Redon in the Theze valley. Firstly over to Touzac then over the river Lot on a splendid metal bridge. Near here is a good swimming spot in the slow running river, popular in the heatwave, One of the GR routes is joined to go over another group of hills down into the Theze valley. St. Martin is a sleepy village but has gained a little cafe since I was last here; a welcome addition. In the valley is a string of limestone cliffs which I often climbed on in happier times. Hilly tracks take me over to Duravel and slowly back to the house.

Day 11. More exercise. As if last weeks exercises hadn’t been enough my own family started on more each day. Matthew and Lou’s seemed fairly casual but Sam was into serious workouts in between fast runs.

Day 12. Shush! there’s a deer in the garden. The orchard higher up the garden has numerous apple trees which drop their fruit at this time of year. It is a regular event for deer to visit the garden for this fruit and Alex spotted one tonight, well done; they don’t hang around long.

Day 13. Off to market. Sunday is market day at the nearby town of Montcuq.  There is a market somewhere every day but this one is very popular with locals and tourists. Every sort of stall [produce, clothing, antiques etc.] street entertainment and an interesting village to explore.

Day 14. The Poolman cometh. An ageing hippy drives up in his Morris Minor van, he has a collection of them, and cleans the pool.

Day 15. Snakes and glow worms.

Day16. More pool activities.  The weather was perfect for relaxing in the pool. One of the challenges was to do a length on the banana,

Day 17. Orienteering. In the woods I’ve set up a simple orienteering course. The family were keen to try it and being competitive split into two groups, I’ll call them the tortoises and the hares. They disappeared for an hour or so and needless to say the more careful tortoises came in first. This proved the hardest to find in a pile of stones in the middle of the trees…

Day 18. Eating in and out. We have mainly eaten at the house, two vegans to feed plus two picky ‘enfants’. Despite that, the family have eaten out at several local restaurants. Chips and salad is the best option for vegans in France. For a special occasion, I specifically booked the nearest place we could walk to. Le Caillau is a lovely courtyard restaurant with a reputation for good food. They told me they could cater for Vegans. My family appreciated the atmosphere and the food but I thought they could have been a little more creative with the seasonable vegetables, What have I missed out – wine tasting, Martignac with its Medieval church, lavoir and cazelle, Buzzards, Bastide towns, castles, mosquitos, kayaking and LOTS  more.

Day 19. Chez mois.  Je suis de retour a la maison maintenant, c’est l’Automne.   Que fait Boris?

 

AIREY HOUSES – PREFABS IN THE COUNTRY.

When I first moved to Longridge in the early seventies I remember pairs of Airey Houses scattered about on country lanes. I thought nothing about them except they looked very utilitarian, which in fact they were. Over the years most of the ones I knew have been transformed into modern properties by sensitive and hopefully efficient conversions. I passed two of these updated Airey Houses on Ford Lane whilst walking to Beacon Fell the other day…

That set me thinking on the origins of  Airey Houses.                                                                      They were in fact named after Sir Edwin Airey who designed them at the Ministry of Works after the Second World War when affordable housing was urgently needed. Basically, a frame of prefabricated concrete reinforced with steel recycled from military vehicles.  Concrete shiplap panels were then added to the exterior making them instantly recognisable. They were quick to erect on site but difficult to heat because of the poor thermal properties of the concrete. Approximately 26000 prefabricated Airey houses were built in the UK.

The three-bedroom semi-detached properties were built in rural areas, including Grimsargh and Goosnargh in the late 1940s and early 50s. They were council-owned but presumably many were privately acquired through the ‘right to buy ‘ scheme.

Here are some more local ones in various reincarnations…

There are more to discover around the area.

BEACON FELL FOR LUNCH!

I can see the tree-covered summit of Beacon Fell from home [photo above], only just as new houses spring up. Last night I thought it a good idea to walk from home up to Beacon Fell, have lunch in their excellent cafe and walk home again, The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind.

This is a regular walk and I don’t need a map, which is fortuitous as I didn’t take one.  I rely on my phone for local mapping. This route to Beacon Fell is the one I use for the start of my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  I faffed about this morning with various things, one of which was my camera’s lens cover which keeps getting stuck. WD 40 may not have been the best idea but I tried it and realised that it would take some time to clear itself. So I leave the camera at home and use my phone for pictures.  It was 11am when I left my house and bumped into a neighbour. He is used to my eccentricities and enquired where I was going  – “Beacon Fell for lunch”  “Oh!” was all he could say.

The fields were high in summer growth and at every stile I was faced with a barrier of nettles, brambles, Balsam and that sticky plant. I spent a lot of time bashing down the undergrowth. Shorts were not the best idea.  I was getting nowhere and becoming increasingly hot and sweaty.

Worse was to come when I reached what were previously open fields but now were transformed into parcels of equestrian land, paddocks I suppose, by electric fences. Large fields with footpaths and open access were now a no-go zone.  I was fuming at the lack of thought for us humble walkers. This was more like an obstacle course than a rural wander. After limbo dancing under some live electric fences, I started to become rebellious detaching the wire where I could, they were live! Knowing I was on a Right of Way  I ploughed through, Sir Hugh will understand. The last obstacle to a bridge was dealt with and I was on someone else’s land. On a serious note, I will be reporting this blatant obstruction of footpaths to Lancs County Council once the dust has settled using their excellent MARIO web site.

By the time I reached the fishing lakes at Horns Reservoir I was well behind schedule. I thought of curtailing the day, but no my obstinacy carried me forward. Exiting the field by the narrow Right of Way was impossible but I knew a way around. Later exchanging pleasantries with the landowner I couldn’t come to say “why don’t you clear the footpath?”  Writing this now I feel I should ride out there tomorrow and ask him.

Things improved and I made good progress through well-known fields. Lovely green grass hid a hare which set off at speed when I approached.  I was impressed at a stile where not only was the correct signage clear but there was also a small map showing the Rights of Way in the surrounding area. Brilliant. I can never understand why some farmers make it difficult to cross their land – why not sign the way and be done with us.

So much more helpful than ….A barn at Whinneyclough had some unusual, obviously historic, features and I was caught trying to get some close-up photos. Note the finials on the roof, the covered mullioned window and the dated door. The owner seemed insensible to my curiosity. The nearby farmhouse is also of architectural interest but was out of bounds.

On through the golf course where the trees have matured in the years I’ve been coming here. Nobody seemed to be playing at the moment. There were signs indicating ‘footgolf’ –  whatever next.

The diversion around Fir Trees Farm seems less irritating as the years go by. I still have no faith in the Planning  Authorities who allow it. The brick fronted farmhouse is Grade II listed.

Well trodden paths through Higher Barker and the burgeoning complex at the former  Cross Keys Inn.  When I first moved to this area this was a favourite place to drink, pre breathalysers, with the beer being served in the farm parlour. The way onwards is always boggy, you will be cursing me if following this route. But now Beacon Fell is there above. A couple of awkward fields and then a long traverse of green pasture brings me out on the road at Crombleholme where there is an impressive C17th house, today splendid with its colourful garden.

Up to the fields and into the woods and suddenly I’m in the main carpark of Beacon Fell. There are people everywhere enjoying the summer sunshine. I present myself at the cafe counter sweaty and dishevelled, probably the only person to arrive here under his own steam. The tea and sandwiches are perfect as I sit at one of the outside tables and watch humanity. Curiously I didn’t take any photos, battery running low but this what it was like.

Aa I didn’t visit the summit, it was all downhill to home. Away from the crowds the paths are eerily quiet. Concessionary paths have been established down to Carwags where a quiet road takes you onwards. Views open to Parlick behind and to Pendle and Longridge Fell ahead. by now my phone was running out of juice hence few photos and no map to follow. An even more rural lane with grass down the middle comes out at Loud Higher Bridge.

I follow the infant River Loud through fields some of which may be trespassing, no map remember, but I eventually come out at a deserted Loudscales Farm. I  know the way home from here. up the lane to the road and down to a junction of paths. Take the middle one up to Withinreap Farm, pass the ‘figure of eight’ ponds and arrive at Lancaster Farm where fields lead to Higher House Farm. From here there are more views to Beacon Fell, the Bowland Fells.

The football match down the road is notable for its spectators’ foul language drifting across the town. Welcome home. It is five o’clock when I turn down my road with a knowing nod to that neighbour.

*****

 

 

 

 

A RURAL RAMBLE FROM BASHALL EAVES.

28 years ago I remember a footpath above the River Hodder coming to an abrupt stop where a bridge was falling down. My son Chris and I were on a backpacking trip around the old Lancashire boundary. We had left Mossley, East of Manchester, and worked our way through high Pennine country, Pendle, Ribble Valley and now we were heading north through Bowland towards Arnside. After getting through the no access, closed and danger barriers we balanced precariously across crumbling masonry high above a stream and carried on our way. Do I have a photo somewhere of that day?  I often wondered what happened to that bridge above Mill Brook. Today I set off to find out.

I parked next to the village hall in Bashall Eaves and set off along a farm track to Mason Green Farm. This turned out to be one of those almost industrial sized complexes. By chance I found a way around it and across fields, full of cows, in the right direction towards Agden Farm which seemed to be a Land Rover hospital. Numerous varieties of the marque were lined up in various states of repair, from a barn there were sounds of restoration.

The overgrown path dropped into a gully, the first of many today, and climbed out steeply on recently installed steps. Somebody must come here. I was now in pastures surrounded by all the familiar fells, Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Fairsnape group. I disturbed a few deer as I dropped into the next gully in Paper Mill Woods. This steep and rather slippery descent took me onto the banks of the River Hodder, full from the last few days’ rain. This is about the only access to the Hodder between Doeford Bridge upstream to Higher Hodder Bridge below. This makes me think that I must be on The Hodder Way a route devised by Clitheroe Ramblers and one I walked in recent times – I have no recollection of this demanding stage.  There was no bridge across the stream but it was no problem to hop across.

Climbing away from the river I pass three magnificent oaks. In the next field of long grass, my only objective is an ash tree on the horizon. Then it is down once more into woods and a difficult descent of a bluff to reach that bridge from years ago, now converted to a wooden structure spanning the stone abutments. There are references to Roman times but I think that is unlikely even though they passed by quite closely. This is a deep ravine, Mill Brook, and the new wooden bridge, rebuilt in 1997, is more impressive than in the photo.

A vague path climbed up through the woods to emerge into fields with open views to the fells. These were crossed and a final dip overcome to reach a track which follows a Roman road, Ribchester to Kirkby Lonsdale. It had taken me two hours to cover three miles and I was ready for a break and a snack.

Onwards I followed the lane to Lees House Farm, now supporting several developments. It’s called diversification. Steep paths lead down to a stream, Mill Brook once again.  Coming up the other side into an overgrown field was not easy if there was a path I didn’t find it.

From here to Micklehurst Farm was straightforward though I managed to herd a lot of sheep in front of me. This morning it had been all cows and now sheep everywhere. Barking dogs, thankfully chained, followed my progress through the farmyard. I’ve passed the road end to Micklehurst Farm many times, I think they are distant relations,  I never realised how far off the road the are.

On the corner is one of the entrances to Browsholme Hall, South Lodge, I sneaked a photo of the gatehouse and cottage.

Now I was onto little-used roads through woodlands some of which are described as nature reserves. I met a couple leisurely ambling down the lane, they had been out birdwatching.

Further on an old Alvis Speed was parked up. It was in fantastic condition. The owner working in a field nearby was obviously proud of the vehicle,1932,  – “all original bodywork”. He admitted that the engine wasn’t firing correctly, hence the bonnet was up for tinkering.

I continued down the lane to reach Saddle Bridge which I mentioned in a recent post.  It is always good to look at things from a different angle and I can’t resist a photo of a packhorse bridge.

Returning back up the path, Rugglesmire is passed, I trespassed a little to try and see the grade II farmhouse.

Into the hamlet of Bashall Eaves, a few cottages with evocative names – The Old School House, The Vicarage, The Old Forge, The Post Office etc.

The Old Forge.

There is also an old Lancashire Cheese press.

Just down the lane is The Red Pump, now a thriving inn/restaurant but it has a dark history. In 1934 a farmer, Jim Douglas, was shot whilst walking home from the pub and died later of his wounds. Investigations were hampered by a “wall of silence” from the villagers and the mystery has never been solved. There is talk of ghosts…..

I usually show a map of my wanderings below and I would suggest that any local readers of my posts try this unknown area. The first half of the walk is particularly scenic and interesting – the best of rural Lancashire, and the paths could with a bit more footfall.

*****

 

A HISTORICAL FOLLOW UP – AROUND WADDINGTON.

A comment from Sir Hugh on my last post, – ‘You seem to have an endless supply of walks full of historical interest.’ made me realise that there is so much history embedded in walking the rural ways of Lancashire. I was intrigued by the part played by Henry VI in the War of the Roses and his subsequent hiding out in our part of Lancashire, the internet giving a version of history at your fingertips. Having been in safekeeping at Bolton Hall, Bolton-by-Bowland he escapes to Waddington Hall. Whilst staying here in 1465 he is betrayed and the Yorkist Talbots from Bashall Hall come after him but he manages to escape down secret stairs only to be caught at the Hipping [Stepping] Stones over the Ribble at Brungerley. He ended up in the Tower of London. So there are quite a few places to visit on today’s walk.

When I parked up on the lane at  Backridge there was mist in the Ribble Valley, Pendle was hiding but the castle in Clitheroe was visible. That was where I was heading and a clear path was discernible through the grass so without any thought or effort I’d arrived at Edisford Bridge and its eponymous Inn.

Tucked away behind a hedge is Edisford Hall of which I was previously unaware and today unable to get a good view of. The hall was apparently the site of a leper colony back in the 13thC. More history denied to the majority, the rich and powerful tend to keep their wealth and property hidden. I cannot deny them their privacy though, an ongoing theme in this post.

Edisford Bridge is medieval and the original ribs can be seen under some of the arches. The inscription on the parapet reminds one of the previous boundaries. The surrounding fields were the scene of a vicious battle [they all were] 900 years ago, but today all was tranquil with holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine on the banks of the Ribble.

I always find the route of the Ribble Way difficult to follow through this edge of Clitheroe. There are open spaces [for how long] but nothing is waymarked, then you are passing old cottages before being sucked into a modern housing estate, the likes of Kingfisher Way and Heron Mews.    Out past allotments the river is gained and followed to Brungerley. Last night’s thunderstorms had put more power into the water at a weir. Across from here one could see on the far bank Waddow Hall, idyllically situated above the river. An old house built in Tudor times by the Tempest family but modified by Jacobean additions.

Further on a family were preparing for a roasting and hijinks in the river just before the bridge – ‘Brits on holiday’. Hottest day of the year?

Brungerley Bridge was built in the early 19th C, It was at the stepping stones here in the past that King Henry VI was captured. A steep stile climbs onto it, now with the obligatory safety rail.

Over the bridge a path is found into the grounds of Waddow Hall, unfortunately it goes round the back of the buildings. Waddow was bought by the Girl Guides Association in 1928 and it keeps its secrets well hidden, but not their exciting climbing tower which I sneaked a picture of, sorry.

Coming out of the grounds a quiet road winds into Waddington 3/4 mile away. I know this village fairly well from eating in the three public houses and wandering around the church. The main street has a stream running down the middle with attractive and well-kept memorial gardens. For a short time in 1990 it became Granada’s “The Television Village” with its own broadcasts from the village hall.

I knew nothing of Waddington Hall, hidden behind high walls in the centre of the village, its origins going back to the 12thC. It was restored in 1901 by the Waddington family. It was here Henry VI attempted to escape from Yorkist followers.

Up the road is a longstanding cafe with an unusual frontage of metal posts, their famous pies were cooling off in the kitchen window – another time.

The prominent church is unusually dedicated to St. Helen. the tower is the oldest part from 1501. Inside there are some intricate wooden details. Nearby are the village stocks.

But by now the Lower Buck Inn was beckoning and I succumbed to a pint of the finest Bowland Brewery’s Blonde Ale. They even allowed me to eat my own sandwiches in the beer garden. This is a great traditional village inn run by the same family for years. Try it sometime, even the dogs have their own brew.

Refreshed I found a hidden path, undoubtedly ancient judging by the clapper bridge, leading out of the village and into open fields with views opening up of Pendle, down to the Ribble Valley at Whalley and round to Longridge Fell. I passed in front of the impressive Colthurst Hall for which I can find no information although there is A King Henry’s Grove nearby on the map.

An old bridleway leaving the road at Braddup House, Whinny Lane, was marked on the map and I decided to follow it up the fell to an area I hadn’t been to for ages. This was at the base of Waddington Fell which I had explored whilst trying to link up paths for my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  It was good to be out in the high country again and I followed that route all the way back to Backridge.

Up here I was surrounded by hills, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell all felt within touching distance, time for a panoramic shot including all three.

On the way back I passed Talbot Bridge with its date stone obliterated by moss and age.

 

The house above the bridge was originally a pub, The Woolpack giving an idea of the passing trade. Next door a Swiss-like house has appeared since my last visit, very twee.

My next point of call was the more graceful Saddle Bridge, 17thC but rebuilt last century, over Bashall Beck which has come down from Talbot Bridge. This packhorse bridge is also known as Fairy Bridge from a local legend.

Soon I was on a familiar track passing the intriguing Bashall Hall. This extensive building dates from the 16thC but has had many changes since in different stiles. It hides behind high garden walls but I managed a few more views today.

It was from this house that the Talbots set out to capture King Henry VI. So I’ve come full circle on what has been an outstanding walk for historical interest and the best Lancashire scenery.

*****

 

HISTORIC BOLTON-BY-BOWLAND.


A rambling afternoon.

The village of Bolton-by-Bowland lies in the SE of The Forest of Bowland bordering onto the Ribble Valley.  Until 1974 it was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire and indeed the surrounding area has a feel of the Yorkshire Dales, its history goes way back into medieval times. The Pudsay family were prominently involved with the village, its church and nearby Bolton Hall [demolished in the 1950s, more of that later.]

I started my walk today at the upper green with the Old Courthouse and village school.  [Frontispiece above]    Further up the lane I entered fields leading up and over to the hamlet of Fooden. There were mature parkland trees and here and there evidence, dykes, of old field patterns, these were quite common throughout today’s walk. As I crested the raise I was surprised to see dozens of men wandering the fields with metal detectors and little shovels, it turned out to be an organised group search. One find already was a diamond ring but they were mainly unearthing modern-day coins.

  Entering the small hamlet I met a lady resident excitedly trying to position a weather vein, incorporating a deer, bought at Tatton Garden Festival last week, on her property.  Her husband seemed long-suffering. The further conversation discussed the nearby Grade II* hall building, now empty after the owner died a couple of years ago, its adjacent sulphur spa and the attractive Grade II* cottage with dovecote across the way. By the time I’d finished exploring the weather vain was up and running. What a delightful place to live.

I found a path leading above the River Ribble. Below out of sight was the limestone Rainsber Scar, named in one section Pudsay’s Leap where allegedly a 16thC William Pudsay [from Bolton Hall] leapt on his horse to avoid capture for forging his own silver coins. I did see a herd of Deer on the far bank which judging by their spots may have been Sika.

I was heading for Bolton Mews the remains of Bolton Hall estate converted into private dwellings. One historical note is that King Henry VIth stayed here with Sir Ralph in 1464 at the time of the War of the Roses. Apparently, his divining skills discovered a spring now preserved as King Henry’s Well. Most of the estate is now out of bounds but the covered well can be seen over a wall.

Having circumvented the grounds of the hall I dropped down to cross a footbridge at an old ford on Skirden Beck.  The fields further on to the next footbridge were impassible with maize so I took a short cut fording the low Holden Beck to climb up to the road directly in front of Bolton Peel. This is another interesting house, 17th century with mullioned windows and a fine porch. In front of the building is a preaching cross. The base is ancient, one of four in the area, but the cross is 19th C. The Peel family were early Lancashire industrialists and gave the country a PM in 1841, we are getting a new one tomorrow!

After a fraught but thankfully short stretch on the busy road a fingerpost pointed me into fields leading to the not so historic Hague Farm. I had a friendly, if noisy, greeting from their labrador. Upwards to Rodhill Gate where I joined a sunken bridleway, an old drove lane,  going steeply up the hill. At the top views broke out of a moody Pendle Hill, the Yorkshire hills towards Skipton and to the north Craven Hills with Pen-y-Ghent proudly in the distance. A splendid spot for a late lunch.

A beeline through fields led to Lower Laithe, an isolated barn. Then it was down into the hamlet of Holden. Braxup House was outstanding with its date stone and unique Yorkshire upper windows.

Across the road was the busy Holden Clough Nursery. I frequently visited here when establishing my own garden 40years ago, what a different place then with the owner Peter Foley searching chaotic nursery beds for a plant of your choice,  Now all is changed, son John has revitalised the nursery into a ‘garden centre’ but still with an emphasis on plants. I had no money on me for a cuppa in their cafe.

A strange narrow stepped stile in a wall leads out of the village. I’m heading for 17thC Hungrill farm across the fields. On arrival, the nearby barn conversion takes my attention. A forded lane takes one into a large garden area in front of the impressive building. Several expensive cars litter the forecourt. Obviously private grounds not for me. I slink around the back on a stony track. This leads to fields with no obvious path or waymarks. I think I was distracted by all the wealth on show that I wandered into the wrong fields, waded into small streams, climbed barbed wire fences before coming out onto a road. A right ramble.

Unexpectedly in front of me was a gate leading into a field by the Skirden Beck running down inro B-by-B at the bridge where I was relieved to arrive back unscathed.

I still had time to look around the village at its fine houses and lower green with a stone cross.

Higher was the parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul, rebuilt in the 15th century by Ralph Pudsay. Inside I knew was a remarkable memorial stone to Sir Ralph, a large slab of limestone engraved with images of himself. three wives and twenty-five children!

That was a well-spent afternoon with some lovely buildings to be viewed as well as the surrounding scenery. I was surprised at the underuse of footpaths in a popular area with good waymarking on the whole.

*****